Skip to main content

New, versatile 3D camera could bring Face ID to smaller devices

Worldwide smallest 3D depth sensing camera by pmd
Depth sensing cameras used for applications like the Face ID in the iPhone X are getting even smaller. During the Consumer Electronics Show on January 8, PMD Technologies AG and Infineon Technologies AG announced the smallest 3D Time of Flight camera module yet, called the IRSZ238XC, that’s also expected to deliver more consistent results in bright light. The camera is expected to see mass production by the end of the year.

The entire 3D camera module, which also includes the sensor, lens IR emitter and their circuitry, is the smallest 3D camera module available worldwide, according to PMD, measuring 12mm by 8mm. But along with the tiny profile, the camera also boasts a higher resolution than earlier chips, with 38,000 pixels.

Related Videos

Along with the higher resolution and smaller profile, PMD says that the camera sensor gains more reliability for outdoor use. Now working at the 940nm wavelength as well, the update is designed for more reliability when using the system outdoors. Another design change, called Suppression of Background Illumination, allows the system to use that 3D sensing in full sunlight. As a time-of-flight camera, the camera measures distance based on the speed that a pulse of infrared light reaches objects. Since these cameras rely on being able to measure that pulse of light, performance can vary in bright conditions.

The company says the camera will also be easier to integrate into products, thanks to an enhanced interface.

PMD’s 3D sensing is already being used inside robots, smart home products, smartphones and augmented reality headsets and the company expects the new chip to be integrated into those categories as well. The latest chip, the company says, is about taking the technology where the industry is expected to expand.

“Having gained experience from shipping ToF chip products already since 2005 and from 2016 also in the consumer space for high numbers, we are happy to leverage the technology on the next level having a functional, highly integrated new imager available at exactly the right point of time, as the market demand is increasing significantly,” said PMD CEO Dr. Bernd Buxbaum.

The camera module is on display at CES. The companies expect production in the fourth quarter of 2018, which means devices equipped with the smaller depth sensor probably won’t make it out this year, but shortly after.

Editors' Recommendations

Wild new 3D printer makes parts by sending titanium particles supersonic
3D printing metal technique

Regular layer-by-layer 3D printing is old news compared to a new additive manufacturing technique developed by an international team of engineers. They recently demonstrated an innovative method for printing 3D metal objects by firing a powder that’s composed of tiny titanium particles, at supersonic speed, so that they fuse together in any interesting way.

This “cold spray” approach takes place below the melting temperature of the metal. When the particles hit the substrate at high enough velocity, they deform and adhere to it. The efficiency of this adhesion increases as the particle velocity increases. Without the high-speed impact, metal powders would simply not adhere well.

Read more
Printable wood biopaste could be the sustainable future of 3D printing
Biopaste 3D printing

Researchers at Germany’s University of Freiburg may have found a way to make 3D printing a bit more environmentally friendly -- by printing with a new material best described as a wood-based biopaste. After all, who needs boring, unsustainable plastics when you’ve got an alternative that works impressively well, made out of wood biopolymers cellulose and lignin?

Marie-Pierre Laborie, the lead researcher on the project, told Digital Trends that creating the printable material is straightforward. “We put each component, a cellulose-based derivative and lignin, into [a] solution and blend the two … to form a sort of paste of high-solid content,” Laborie said. “At [a] particular solid content and composition, we retain the lyotropic liquid crystalline behavior of the cellulose derivative. This facilitates the processing of the paste. The paste then solidifies thanks to the stabilizing effect of the lignin upon 3D printing.”

Read more
2020 iPhone could include a 3D camera system

The triple-lens camera on Apple's iPhone 11 Pro was a huge photography improvement for the smartphone maker when it was announced last September. Now it seems that the latest photography innovation from Apple could come in the form of a 3D camera. 

Fast Company reports that one of the iPhones to debut this year will have a rear-facing, or “world-facing,” 3D camera system. This type of camera system would allow better effects on photos and videos, as well as improved augmented reality features.

Read more